Avoid meanness cloaked in humor

There are four things you can do on social media to uplift your readers: talk about politics, proselytize your religion, share intimate details of your life, and always give your opinion. Oh wait, that’s the answer for how to bum people out. Right.

Well, in that case, the way to be uplifting on social media is do the opposite of what I just said.

I’ve found that social media is not the place to get into political or religious debates; it’s not the place to hash out your divorce or problems with your boss; and the God’s honest truth is there aren’t many people who really want to hear your opinion about anything — unless you’re being kind and encouraging. (This is something I’ve had to learn, too).

Instead, share pictures of your travels, your kids, your spouse and your pets. Express your faith in ways that uplift but don’t preach. For example, offer a prayer for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting or the Napa Valley fires, but don’t offer theological theories about why you think those terrible things happened.

Share memes that encourage peace, love and joy, and try to avoid sarcastic, snide or judgmental posts — no matter how funny they may be to you. The reality is that snarky comments are just meanness cloaked in humor, and they can really hurt people’s feelings.

The world is an increasingly negative and stressful place in which to live and, in my opinion, much of social media contributes to that atmosphere. I believe that God wants more from his children. And I think that if all of us set out each day to build up one another and make each other smile, the glory of God would certainly shine brighter throughout the world.

— Rev. Laura Hutchinson, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Harm or help: It’s your choice

Social media has revolutionized the way we communicate in the world. From online organizing to Facebook live sermons, social media has proven it has serious staying power.

For communities, social media is the new way to have conversations with people in the community. From elected officials to schools, businesses to faith organizations, social media is being used in creative ways that serve the people they need to connect with.

On an individual note, many people use social media to communicate with family and friends, share information, express feelings, promote themselves and various reasons. I know my Facebook friends well enough to know who to look to when I need uplifting or a good laugh.

You can tell people who are hurting spiritually, mentally or emotionally by their post. You can also tell when people are spiritually, mentally and emotionally connected by what they post.

If someone shares that they can see the silver lining behind their dark cloud, it gives us hope to look for our silver lining. Beautiful pictures can transport us to a beautiful place that uplifts us with just a touch of a finger.

Proverbs 17:22 (KJV) says a merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Social media can be our merry heart or our broken spirit. The choice is ours.

— Alberta McCrory, Gaines Chapel AME Church, Anniston